|SF wake-up call comes just in time |
Better late than never.
South Fulton’s Kayla Davidson throws for a force out during the Devilettes’ victory Monday.
Down 5-3 after five sloppily-played innings and looking nothing like the team that had near-flawlessly won the District 14A Tournament, South Fulton scored five times with two out in the sixth to rally for an 8-5 victory over McKenzie Monday in the Region 7A Softball Tournament.
The win sends the Devilettes (22-8) to the regional finals Wednesday where they’ll play Huntingdon (28-6) — a 2-1 victor over Union City in nine innings Monday.
SF is also assured of a sectional berth for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons and would host the loser of the Region 8 championship game between reigning two-time state champion Trinity Christian Academy and Adamsville Friday should the Lady Devils defeat Huntingdon on Wednesday.
A loss Wednesday vs. the Fillies, and South Fulton would play at the winner of the TCA-Adamsville game on Friday with a state tournament berth at stake.
The scenario is identical to last season when SF edged Huntingdon 2-1 for the 7A championship, only to be denied the program’s sixth state tournament berth via an 3-2 loss to Adamsville in the sectional round.
A two-run triple by eighth-grader Haley McKinney followed by Kayla Davidson’s RBI double brought the Devilettes from behind Monday vs. McKenzie with a two-run single by Katie Bivens then providing insurance and capping a late SF comeback.
Before that, South Fulton committed a number of both mental and physical mistakes, three of those in the field leading to three unearned runs that had the Rebels in the lead 5-3 before the Lady Red Devils rallied.
“We were very fortunate. To say that we played poorly in the field is an understatement,” SF head coach Curt Lee said afterward. “Usually when you get to this level, the types of mistakes and the number of mistakes we made will get you beat. I’m not sure we really played well enough to win, but we came up with a couple of key hits at the most opportune times and we’ll take it.”
Eighth-grader Marina Barclay got South Fulton’s game-winning comeback started with a one-out double in the sixth inning.
After Michelle Johnson struck out, Kaci Daughtery walked for the fourth time in the contest to put two Devilettes on base.
McKinney then looped a sinking line drive into rightfield with the ball skipping past McKenzie’s Lesley Robertson and rolling all the way to the fence to allow first Barclay to score, then a diving Daughtery to just beat a tag at home for a 5-all tie.
Davidson, who’d struggled until then in key situations, then smoked a run-scoring double into the right-center gap to put South Fulton up for the first time 6-5.
Melissa Reams reached on an error to keep the inning alive before Bivens put an exclamation mark on the drama by lining a two-run single over the third-base bag that plated both Davidson and courtesy-runner Casey Martin.
McKinney, who relieved Reams in the sixth, then recorded two of her four strikeouts to slam the door on any possible Lady Rebel rally in the seventh and improve her personal pitching mark to 6-5
“I felt like we could get some baserunners and score some runs against them, but I didn’t know if we were going to be close enough for it to matter because of all the mistakes we were making defensively,” Lee added. “Our two pitchers probably deserved a little better fate but, in the end, we had a couple of girls step up in the clutch with the bat in their hands.”
McKenzie (11-14) had taken a quick 2-0 lead and Travatia Bowden’s two-run double in the first before SF countered with two of their own in the second inning.
Johnson knocked in Bivens with the first of those runs, with courtesy-runner Jennifer Allen coming in via an error with the second.
The Devilettes played the role of generous hosts with two runs allowed in the third and another in the fourth as a result of three misplays in the field.
South Fulton got one of those runs back in the third on a two-out dropped fly ball that allowed Martin to come home.
Reams was the only SF player to collect multiple hits, getting two of the Devilettes’ eight base knocks.
The two teams combined for eight errors during Monday’s outing.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.